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The long-run effect of maternity leave benefits on mental health: evidence from European countries

Avendano, Mauricio, Berkman, Lisa F., Brugiavini, Agar and Pasini, Giacomo (2015) The long-run effect of maternity leave benefits on mental health: evidence from European countries. Social Science & Medicine, 132. pp. 45-53. ISSN 0277-9536

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.02.037


This paper examines whether maternity leave policies have an effect on women´s mental health in older age. We link data for women aged 50 years and above from countries in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to data on maternity leave legislation from 1960 onwards. We use a difference-in-differences approach that exploits changes over time within countries in the duration and compensation of maternity leave benefits, linked to the year women were giving birth to their first child at age 16 to 25. We compare late-life depressive symptom scores (measured with a 12-item version of the Euro-D scale) of mothers who were in employment in the period around the birth of their first child to depression scores of mothers who were not in employment in the period surrounding the birth of a first child, and therefore did not benefit directly from maternity leave benefits. Our findings suggest that a more generous maternity leave during the birth of a first child is associated with a reduced score of 0.38 points in the Euro-D depressive symptom scale in old age.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 Elsevier
Divisions: Social Policy
LSE Health
Lifecourse, Ageing & Population Health
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2015 11:31
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2024 21:24
Projects: R01AG040248, R01AG037398, 263684
Funders: National Institute on Aging, Starting Researcher grant from the European Research Council, McArthur Foundation Research Network on Ageing

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